We are still screwed: the coming climate disaster


Well, there is a big assumption underlying this as well: that we all won’t be forced to abandon our “use all the power we want any time we want” mindset. If solar energy storage doesn’t grow up, and baseline starts to fail or becomes too expensive, everyone will need to treat daylight more like we did a century ago, and if you aren’t on a life support machine you are rationed to 200Wh/night after sunset.


This isn’t even remotely feasible.

Seriously. Put it out of your head. It is NEVER going to happen. Ever.


You can’t ration energy but you could severely price tier it, like many cities do with water now. So price tier 1, base tier, is basically free, but each usage tier above that gets significantly more expensive, 2-10x more expensive per tier, with very significant costs at the high end.


Energy is literally everything. Like, seriously, everything in the entire world that you deal with every day is ultimately related to some amount of energy.

Having the government institute some kind of tax on energy is ultimately a tax on everything you consume, ever. And as a result, it will have a virtually guaranteed depressive effect on the economy and productivity.

Humanity’s consumption of energy is going to go up, probably forever. Even if you include things like increased efficiency, you’re not gonna beat the fact that the population keeps growing, and the fact that most of the world still lives like primitive humans, and their energy consumption is going to skyrocket as they come into the modern age.

Here’s a graph:

Yeah, efficiency ain’t gonna help there. That curve is way too steep.

The solution isn’t going to be for folks to use less energy. We’re not going to go back to being primitive humans, unless we destroy our civilization… at which point, hey, none of this shit matters anyway!

You need to produce carbon free power. That’s the problem that needs to be solved, and it needs to be solved yesterday. Either focus your efforts on that problem, or you’re just fucking around.


You say that as if rolling brownouts aren’t a thing already. Government and Business have the $ to get their power, but it could price residential users out of off-peak energy markets. If you don’t have that Tesla wall of your own, you don’t get to use that 1800watt microwave after dark.


I don’t think people are claiming that Solar and Wind will be the full solution. Rather, we’re saying that there is a giant chunk of electricity generation (~80%) that can be replaced by Solar and Wind before baseline load becomes an issue. So let’s replace that 80%. Once we’ve replaced 80% of our power generation, then nuclear might have a place at the table. Up until that point though, it’s just an all around worse solution.

(source: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/3/20/17128478/solar-duck-curve-nrel-researcher

in particular:

Paul Denholm

We spend a huge amount of time talking about this topic here around the lunch table — a lot of calories are spent on it. So I’ll tell you what I’d say is the informal general consensus about ultra-high-penetration renewables scenarios.

The consensus is emerging that we can probably do 80 percent [renewables] with some combination of spatial diversity and short-duration storage.

Edit: Oh, and I agree with 98% of the other stuff you’re saying Timex. This is really my only quibble.


And, as an added bonus, that waste is radioactive.


The problem is that you don’t have time.
The reason we don’t have enough nuclear power now, is because people have been fucking around for ages. Because people got this messed up idea in their heads, largely based on movies, that nuclear power plants were gonna blow up and create giant mutant monsters… so we stopped building nuclear power plants. We haven’t built a new one since the 90’s, and that one took forever due to problems we have already talked about here.

Our first nuclear power plant, Oyster creek? We built that for $488 million dollars. In 5 years, starting in 1964. And it ran until this year.

And for years now, folks have said, “We can’t build new nuclear power plants, they take too long!” But we could have already built enough to provide all of our baseline power. We just didn’t. And we never will, as long as we keep pretending like it’s impossible.


Yes, this. If we want to solve the carbon neutral power generation problem in the next decade, this is the only path available. Nothing prevents increased research and development of other power generation technologies, like wind or solar. Do both.

If you really believe, and I think you should, that this is an existential crisis, well we have a solution available today. No new research needed.


Not entirely sure who we’re trying to convince here as most on this forum support building more nuclear plants in some form or fashion. Some may point out why that’s not getting done but that doesn’t imply opposition.


I think that perhaps a source of the disagreement is that I’m suggesting that we streamline the process by which we build new nuclear plants, to more closely match the processes we employed in the earlier years of the nuclear industry. Not simply because “regulations are bad!” but because at this point we have bigger problems that we really need to deal with here.

Further, I believe that we will need to have the government help subsidize the insurance of such projects, or potentially directly invest in those projects. This of course creates all kinds of potential problems, since the government fucks stuff up all the time, but when it comes to doing really big ass projects, that’s a thing the government can do.

Finally, another source of the disagreement is that some folks are fixated on the problems of nuclear, like what we do with the waste… and my answer is “I don’t give a shit”. Because while that waste is really bad, it’s such a tiny amount that it’s a very localized problem. We can deal with it, because it is tiny.

Right now, we have this giant global problem of greenhouse emissions. That takes priority.

If you just throw nuclear waste out into the back yard, it’s gonna fuck up the area for a few miles away. Hell, at some point in the distant future, with this “literally no containment at all” plan, you could see radiation show up in ground water in, again, fairly localized regions.

All that shit is trivial, when you are comparing it to “the oceans become acidified, and it causes a massive die-off of most ocean life.”

It’s like… nuclear waste seems like a problem, but when you put it into perspective, it’s absolutely trivial.


But if each plant just throws it in the back yard, then it’s thousands of back yards and surrounding which are contaminated forever, not just your theoretical “1 cubic acre”. Or you have to safely transport tons of it across the country, what on trains? Pickup trucks?

How about security, because I know there a bunch of friendly guys who would love to grab up a few hundred pounds of “waste” for their happy fun bombs. It would be great to not need Fort Knox level security in all those dirty backyards, right?

At some point nationalizing the waste collection, transport, security, and storage, seems like the only long-term option.

PS: Secretary “Oops” Perry cancelled the only ongoing national storage test site program from DoE.


It doesn’t matter if nuclear is the answer now, if people don’t want it to be built, it’s not getting built.

Oh, but we could change regulation, yadda yadda, unpopular measures that will lead to politicians losing theirs jobs. Yeah, and we could also regulate energy consumption, nr of children / pets, how much carbon you’re allowed to spend, no beef / milk, no carbon expensive travel for leisure, forced relocation, etc.

The unpopular solutions will only be turned to once they stop being unpopular or they become obvious and late… Or them being unpopular no longer matters, since politicians no longer need to care about that sort of thing.


And those thousands of back yards is still a totally trivial amount of land.
Do you understand that?

Even if you didn’t contain it at all, and just threw it into the ground, the amount of contamination would still be virtually nothing in the grand scheme of things. Compared to the overall land area of the US, it wouldn’t matter.

And of course, our solution isn’t going to be to just throw it into the back yard. Our existing plan for dealing with it has prevented significant radiation issues for decades. But even in the worst case, it’s still affecting a trivial amount of land.

Sure dude, do that.

But don’t sit around twiddling your thumbs while waiting for that to happen. Build more nuclear plants now.

Fucking WIND power is unpopular in tons of places, because idiots say, “I don’t want to look out and see windmills!”

If you’re relying on the population being smart and accepting the right solution, you’re gonna have a bad time.


I don’t understand what this means. You can certainly build wind and solar infrastructure as fast as, if not faster, than nuclear, so it can’t mean that.

I’m fine with nuclear for baseline power generation, BTW. I just know we won’t build anything like 61 nuclear plants per year, so we probably ought to build solar and wind as fast as we can.

Sure, but your entire argument is that we ignore their fears and desires and force the nuclear solution on them. If that’s on the table, then anything is on the table, right?


It’s not that you can’t build those. You totally should build those.
But solar and wind can’t provide the power we need. We don’t have time to develop the new technology that will make them solve the baseline power problem.

Which isn’t to say that we shouldn’t continue to pursue those technologies. Again, we should. But we should be starting plans to build new nuclear power plants, today.

Well, yeah, because they don’t own all the land in the world.

Like, for instance, with wind… One of the best places to build wind farms in Mass. is off the coast… but there was huge pushback from rich assholes who lived on the coast, because they felt that having little tiny windmills (literally, maybe a few millimeters tall on the horizon) was “ruining their view”.

Fuck those guys. They don’t own the fucking ocean.


I agree this is still something of a problem, but I posted a story from APS that they were going to begin building out battery storage for baseline power load, as the most cost-effective solution. So maybe it’s closer than I thought.


If you look at what APS said, they explicitly stated that one of the reasons why they were pushing ahead with solar and battery backups was that the permitting process was so much simpler.

Also, it’s worth noting that whole lots of the stories cite “800Mw of storage”, we all know that’s not how batteries work. Batteries store Mw/h. And in this case, they are 3 hour batteries. So they can provide 800Mw, for 3 hours. It’s not the same as 800 megawatts of power production, which is 800 megawatts all the time. To be the same, you would need 8 times as many batteries. That’s a lot. If you are going to compare that battery supply to normal generating stations, then it’s more accurately described as 100 megawatts of capacity (assuming you have the spare solar output every day to charge it).


Which means that batteries are both feasible and easier to permit.


Sure, my phone has a battery. Clearly batteries exist and function.

But again, we are talking about them making the battery equivalent of 100Mw of capacity. That’s not that much.

And we also don’t know how much it costs.